Scotland really is a place that needs to be seen to be believed. From being home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and being packed with history, it’s a great location to visit during Scotland Tours, whatever your budget.
The Highlands has it in spades when it comes to free attractions to experience. This article aims to give you a rundown on the best places to visit, without having to dip into your wallet.
Free Things To Do: Highlands In Scotland
Glencoe Valley sits some 20 miles south of Ben Nevis in the centre of the Highlands. Packed with Scottish history (and not to mention some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world), the valley is a popular destination for tourists across the globe.
Glencoe is the location of the notorious Glencoe massacre, so if Scottish history is your thing, the area is a must. In more recent times, the location has been used in both James Bond and Harry Potter movies, making it the perfect stop for film buffs.
The A82 cuts straight through the valley, offering you one of the prettiest road trips you’ll ever see. If you are short on time and can’t afford to spend a long time in Glencoe, the road offers lots of rest points. From there, you can take in the unparalleled surroundings.
If you can make time, however, consider attempting the Lost Valley hike. It is perfect for spotting wildlife and taking in the magnitude of the scenery. It’s a 2.2-mile walk which is relatively easy even without a lot of walking experience. It’s also great for kids to get muddy and explore.
Glencoe has a visitor centre if you want to learn more about the area or grab a cup of coffee. However, the best way to experience the area, in our opinion, is to pack a picnic and thermal flask and find a cosy spot in the small village to recharge.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is located on the west of the Highlands and is the largest island in the Inner Hebrides. It makes a great day out if you have little ones in tow; from the unmissable Fairy Pools to the famous Old Man of Storr, there are lots to keep the entire family entertained for free.
West Highland Way
If you are in Scotland for a week or a little bit longer, you could attempt the famous West Highland Way, a 96-mile walk from Milngavie (pronounced Mull-guy) in Glasgow to Fort William, located deep in the Highlands.
The walk can take anywhere between 4 to 10 days, depending on your fitness level and how many miles you want to complete in a day.
While some walkers prefer to relax and put their feet up in hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses along the route, there’s a hardier set of people who prefer to wild camp in beautiful surroundings. It certainly adds to the experience and is a great way to save money.
A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to St Andrews and the original home of golf. Although much of the town is bustling with students who study at the prestigious St Andrews University, there’s plenty to see and do. (There’s also a large car park, should you require it).
A walk on the old course is a must for those who enjoy a round or two of golf. Yet, there’s also something of the jewel in the crown of this small town: St Andrew’s Cathedral. Now a spectacular ruin, the tower, standing at an impressive 108 feet high, is by far the most notable site in all of St Andrews.
Inverness in the far north of the Highlands is packed with fun things to do, regardless of your age of mobility. Perfect for both younger and older members of the family, the city is packed with charm and energy, with lots for visitors to see and do.
If coming by road, the city has more than one car park dotted around, so you can safely leave the car and go exploring Inverness Castle (for free!).
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery have artefacts and exhibitions relating to the Highlands’ history and its locals. The art gallery area of Inverness Museum celebrates local talent and has a host of displays celebrating Scotland.
No trip to the Highlands would be complete without an attempt to catch a glimpse of Nessie, so Loch Ness, situated near Inverness, is a must. Loch Ness is 23 miles long and 700 feet at its deepest, making the prospect of a large underwater creature lurking just beyond the loch shore all the most plausible.
Although one of the best free attractions in the area, in order to fully experience the Loch, there’s a boat tour which isn’t the cheapest to take part in. However, the landscapes surrounding the Loch can be viewed for free. And, take it from us; it’s well worth the journey.
For the more adventurous, you can trek from Meall Fuar-mhonaidh, the highest hill surrounding the Loch. From here, the 6-mile trek allows visitors to take in the views of both Loch Ness and The Great Glen Way, which runs from Fort William to Inverness.
Fort William, located on the Eastern shore of Loch Linnhe, has a great selection of things to do, making it the perfect place to spend a day or two exploring.
The West Highland Museum is definitely worth a visit for its unique collection of Bonnie Prince Charlie artefacts alongside items and a throng of information on the Jacobite Rebellion. The West Highland Museum also is home to none other than infamous outlaw Rob Roy’s sporran and Spanish Armada galleon.
Ben Nevis is the UK’s tallest mountain which proudly stands over Fort Willam 7 miles away. At 4,406 feet high, the mountain is not for the faint-hearted and certainly shouldn’t be tackled without a strict understanding of climbing.
Although over 125,000 visitors come to attempt the 11-mile upward trail to the summit, only a fifth succeed. If you do decide you want to climb Ben Nevis, ensure you know what you are doing and come fully prepared. Even on the most beautiful summer’s day, the summit can quickly close in with thick, dense fog. This can disorientate even the hardiest climbers.
Fort Willaim is also home to a Visitor Centre where you can learn more about the surrounding area and its history, as well as Ben Nevis.
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With its castle ruins, beautiful beaches and breathtaking landscapes, Scotland is an unbeatable place to stay. Here at Best Scottish Cottages, we have a huge array of modern, cosy cottages for you to call home during your Scottish stay, providing you with the perfect base with all the amenities and comforts you could ever want or need.
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What should I wear on a trip to the Scottish Highlands?
The Highlands in Scotland is known for their tempestuous weather conditions. Therefore, you are encouraged to pack lots of waterproof clothing, including a good-quality pair of walking boots.
Are there midges in the Highlands of Scotland?
The west coast has its fair share of the unpleasant little biting flies that Scotland is notorious for. They are at their most tyrannical between April and October next year. Fear not; a good quality midge repellant is usually all it takes to keep them at bay.
The Scottish Highlands are home to beautiful landscapes and amazing free attractions, so we definitely think it’s worth a visit.
But, wherever you decide to go in Scotland, and whatever you decide to do, the Highlands and its locals will provide you with a hearty, warm welcome.